Reading Tea Leaves

downloadI got an interesting question from Adrian and was doing a bit of thinking. He asked:

Not sure how much there is to say but my curiosity is how they are going to get the business accounts fully functional? Like a lot of small business owners, I have a personal profile online as well as that of my company. EAv now have business accounts but you can’t link to things such as FB, G+ and LinkedIn pages as you first need to link to a profile which, of course, is already in use.

Dups, for reasons I can’t discern, makes it tough to understand the future direction of Empire Avenue. When he is pressed, he sends folks to EA’s Corporate Page: I have read this enough times to be certain that I am completely clueless about what it actually means and puzzled why he won’t share a clear vision. I end up believing that actions are generally better predictors of the future than promises; so here are my wild speculations.

Specifically Adrian, I believe that the difficulty of creating a personal versus a business presence on EA relates to the fact that the site is more organically grown rather than working some development plan. Dups has admitted as much when he talks about getting away from his original vision. EA just keeps getting surprised and struggles to react.

EA has removed several of the ‘game’ aspects of the site with an effort to streamline and make it more business friendly. Premium Accounts provide eaves to minimize the need for companies to spend time investing. To everyone that I talk with, EA has become significantly less fun. Efforts to engage the EA staff about this issue have been fruitless. I think Dups thinks there isn’t any money in the game of EA.

That leads me to believe that EA is trying to become a business tool instead of a game. I see a couple of problems that stand in the way. The user community of EA is tiny. Kevin provided some interesting numbers to verify this recently. ย With such a small number of folks entering & even fewer staying around, EA is just not that interesting to most businesses. The other issue is targeting. Trying to find and mobilize EA’ers that fit your niche is almost impossible; unless you are in the MLM game. I worry that the high level of sketchiness in the EA community might be off putting to businesses also. Despite EA’s assertions, I don’t find much evidence that “the most respected social media profiles and companies from around the world” gather here. To be a truly effective tool EA must quickly gather a critical mass; both in quality and quantity.

Back to Adrian’s quandary, I think the issue of connecting networks to accounts is problematic; because of folks who game the system by moving networks between their various accounts. That behavior makes it tough to have a great solution for folks with legitimate needs. I suspect that as EA continues to deprecate the stock market part of their site, the issue of networks connected to accounts becomes less important.

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33 thoughts on “Reading Tea Leaves

  1. While I won’t get into a debate here ๐Ÿ™‚ It will happen elsewhere, Empire Avenue has always been a mixture of a game and a network. The game was created to valuate you on a stock market so that we could find ways for you to earn advertising dollars from your engaged network (ie yourself) rather than having people like Google earn money through what you posted without you seeing much of it. This was the original intention of Empire Avenue. In the middle phase of Empire Avenue we went into the game phase where we concentrated on the game without thinking about the vision. The vision for the team and for the product has been how do we take what you do in Social Media (online in general) and create a functional economy around that activity, engagement, knowledge and networks. How then can businesses use that to drive. The game is important, games teach, they allow us to have fun and they allow us to engage with others easier. The question you should ask, and which I believe is important, is how can the game be decoupled from the business aspect so that the game does what we always wanted to do: have fun, teach about social media, allow you to connect and engage you.

    Our ability to go into networks and analyze is one product, our game is another product, missions (as a game and tool) is another product and community is another product. It’s how these products intermingle that creates the most tantalizing of prospects and it’s what we want to do. To get there, we need to put the functional stuff into place, we need to command our resources and yes, we need to take control of our vision and not let it be dictated by organic growth.

    The game is less fun for older players, we know that, but part of that is making sure that the resources are concentrated on that part of the product to fulfill the requirements of what the game is meant to do. Until we break apart the way we engage people on the whole platform, this will not happen.

    I’m not too worried that our audience is small, we purposefully have controlled access to Empire Avenue so that we can get all the changes in place, it’s hard to make the kind of changes we want to do while having a giant audience, once we start scaling, our opportunities to change will become limited and more challenging.

    We’re getting close internally and we are now making critical hires to get us to the next level.

  2. Thanks for your reply Dups.

  3. ransae says:

    Reblogged this on Ransae's Blog.

  4. ransae says:

    Thanks Harold, and Thanks Dups……I had these questions in my mind lately, and remembering even asking on a community of EA to the leader of the community……and here i have got a very satisfactory answer, but still, i have one more question, as to how will this EA, help a business man like me, who is in practical trading business, like commodities, trade, import and export, business services, related to commodities, etc, etc, which has, as far as i know, very little to do with Social media, if i am not wrong. Thanks for this wonderful blog, and clarifications……

    • I do think that some business are less aligned with Social Media. Most of us believe that is largely a matter of time. Think about how slow some businesses were to get online at all. Perhaps it is just that you make contacts who know or could help you locate new partners for your business. Sadly I don’t think there is an easy answer for you today.

  5. Adrian says:

    As always, some interesting points.

    It was good to see my comment being used as part of the post but my point was more of a technical issue as opposed to policy and don’t see that being addressed in anything I’ve read so far.

    Specifically, I cannot see a way to link my company social media pages (FB, LinkedIn, G+) to my EAv business profile (other than by ‘non-scoring’ RSS feeds) as you can only appear to add a personal profile for verification purposes and that, of course, is already associated with my personal EAv account.

    As my EAv business profile cannot score (from a game point of view) as highly as possible due to these constraints, it makes it a less attractive investment and an account I would be unlikely to spend much time (or hard cash) developing.

    • Adrian, give us time and resources ๐Ÿ˜€ I want to connect the world to your account if I could ๐Ÿ˜€

    • And yes I can’t give you a specific reply because we are so focused right now on the functional changes that need to happen to improve all the messaging, onboarding and making empire avenue relevant to our mission. I can’t be specific because all that says on the road map is “connect business feeds” what that means and how that will work I have no idea right now. Anyone who says otherwise is off their rocker ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Adrian It seems your question is how to attach a social media network account to more than one EA account. It can’t be done; because would create a ton of fake accounts all feeding from the same social media channels. The idea from EA’s perspective is that you personally should have a set of social media accounts and your business should have another complete set. I understand this is impractical.

      The other thought that I have is dividends seem to be increasingly less important; particularly for business accounts. Even if nobody invests in your business account, your purchase of a premium account will allow you to fund & create missions and otherwise engage to drive your business.

      I think this is the idea about the mission/promotion part of EA getting decoupled from the stock market/game part of EA.

      • Adrian says:

        Not an account Harold but a page. For example, I have a G+ profile linked to my personal account buy my company has a G+ page which should link to my company account. Ditto for FB and LinkedIn.

      • I understand now. Dups needs to lead a coalition of Social Media platforms to develop a standardized API for data exchange. That would help a ton of folks.

  6. Reblogged this on TygrScott and commented:
    Interesting. Has a good reply from DUPS

  7. marcelaubron says:

    When I started out on EAv it was very much because of the fun of it – the stock market game, offering the vision of making “money” to invest in “projects” you would like to support or do yourself. This is the part that would bring many people in …

    And that is the only part imho which might be interesting to businesses – interact with fellow users and engage users in social media via EAv. However, for that critical mass fun would have to be there and it won’t work via a zombie army clicking missions. There is a desperate need for people using social media (particularly photo and film-centered ones such as tumblr, Instagram, Flickr etc.) to be _on_ EAv, having fun, and helping out the businesses by promoting and/or using them.

    Don’t really know anymore how EAv is supposed to bring this about. The fun has gone out of the game for many as it is almost impossible as a new user to get going (without major help) or get anywhere close to those players who have been in the game for a very long time shelling out millions a day.

    If your success in EAv is based on your social media “life” every major account would have to be connected and this isn’t being done. And if you do it you would have to scale the game in such a way that millions won’t be enough quickly…

    • Thanks Marcel. Seems almost everyone, including Dups, thinks that EA is less fun. The disagreement centers around the importance of the fun. I hope EA does not wait too late to heed their community.

      I would like to be able to help EA become more successful, but their inability to share the vision makes it tough for anyone to help them achieve that vision.

    • Harold, what part of the above vision (that I posted in reply) would you like more clarified. Empire Avenue is about finding ways for you to realize real value, monetize what you do on social media or online in general, that was the original intent of the stock market game. <– that is the mission. The solution then is to make all the pieces that make up the whole of Empire Avenue (your profile, the game, community and missions) work in a way that allows you to do that.

      • I don’t understand, and I have been here over a year. I see no evidence of folks making cash anywhere legit with EA. I have talked with many on the leader board who can’t figure it out either. We want to be on your side, but we seriously don’t know where it is.

        Do you mean Fiverr gigs…that is tweeting, liking, whatever for small cash payments? Do you mean a consulting marketplace where companies would come to find an EA’er to manage their social presence? Are you talking about something like a Klout perk where companies show up with prizes for folks with influence? Is it an MLM market place where folks in that biz exchange tips for cash? Is it a black hat house where folks with those skills can sell to a more legitimate crowd? Is it a law of attraction society where really nice people show up and the cash just happens?

        Monetizing your social media is a slogan not a vision.

      • Monetizing your network or your knowledge or your social media, could, yes be about giving someone access to your network by you tweeting, yep, always possible, celebrities do it all the time. It could also be consulting with what you know, absolutely and specifically maybe about social media and networks.

        All we want to do is give you a platform where, like in the real world, you can turn the knowledge you have, and the knowledge we have about you, the networks you create and we help you create into something of real value, but ultimately it is what you choose to do with it all. Obviously we don’t anything shady. And yes, that could mean allowing eaves to be used in different places too and that is a points system.

        Empire Avenue will be a social marketplace where you will be able to monetize yourself, your knowledge or your networks. Not everything at once obviously and it will be messaged simply and better than we do today.

      • And before someone posts and says “what the game is going away”, not at all, we think the game is important, fun, can be a teaching and networking tool and it will not be going away. On the contrary, if we show the reason it exists and we can articulate it’s existence then we can make it more fun. When the game portion is trying to be too many things then it gets hard to make fun.

  8. Also, when I say less fun, people who have been on a singular game for longer than three months will report (in every case) that it is less fun than when they started. This is because as games go, any game must put out new things etc. New people joining do not see what you see as it is all new to them. We need to balance what you feel and making it fun for the new person. If we add too much for the experienced user in a way that confuses the new user (in the game part) then it totally destroys the game.

    • I think EA has an inverted complexity. It is quite difficult for new starters to play, but becomes much more simple for folks who have amassed wealth.

      Most electronic games have levels to keep things easy for newer players and more challenging for folks who have more experience.

  9. […] Dups wrote in a comment on Harold Gardner’s blog: […]

  10. Kiara Lane says:

    To sum up this discussion. The glass is always full even if it has 50% water in it the other 50% is air. So I tell all the glass is always full and I’m sticking with it.

  11. […] via Reading Tea Leaves. […]

  12. […] I got an interesting question from Adrian and was doing a bit of thinking. He asked: Not sure how much there is to say but my curiosity is how they are going to get the business accounts fully func…  […]

  13. George J Lloyd says:

    Thanks Harold for kicking off this debate. ๐Ÿ˜€

    As this question bothers me for month: How/Where can I connect/attach a business account to my personal one?

  14. […] Dups wrote in a comment on Harold Gardnerโ€™s blog: […]

  15. Good discussion, ‘glad it happened. “Thanks Dups & Harold

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